Dr. Shefali Batra, Psychiatrist and Relationship Wellness Expert, urges you to listen to the subtle cues of one’s spouse when things are going wrong.
The three C’s of a marriage – commitment, communication and collaboration are the keystones that mark its strength and success. Another C that might help is a small degree of clairvoyance – an ability to know what is going to happen before it actually does! Women are historically believed to be enigmatic; they may not speak their heart or mind openly, but do expect that they are well understood and responded to. It is hence very important for you to know how your wife feels and more so, why she might feel so. Offering emotional support becomes easier and is more timely when you know that she is distressed. This not only helps her feel better but allows her to appreciate your empathy too; which further strengthens your marital bond. Here are some signs you could watch for, to build this clairvoyant ability.
She keeps saying “You aren’t listening to me”
Relationships get their nourishment from open communication. If your wife senses that you are distracted or bored while she shares something about her day or her life (so what if it is mundane or insignificant), it could hurt. She might not directly show it but there might be a passive expression of this resentment through such statements.
She starts cutting you out of her routine
‘Me time’ is healthy, especially engaging in hobbies or meeting her friends. However if this becomes ‘only me time’ all the time, it could be a warning sign of her not feeling as close to you as she did before. Physical distance does not equate with emotional distance. But when it’s too obvious, recurrent and apparent, you probably should raise your antennae to her distress.
She doesn’t feel like having sex
This could be genuine and legitimate, as we all have our on and off days with sexuality. But lack of initiation and persistent refusal of intercourse does indicate a subtle emotional detachment which may arise from deficit in communication or some or the other misunderstanding.
She is sarcastic with you in public
This is a classic passive expression of anger. Healthy couples discuss their troubles with each other and resolve conflict maturely. If you notice that she’s not telling you, but passing subtle taunting remarks in the presence of others, she’s clearly distressed to the level that she believes you aren’t inclined towards listening.
How can you work on this?
Don’t run from the situation
You can’t hide from the storm and believe it has passed. Take some time out to ask her whether she’s feeling OK and if not seek to know why she feels the way she does.
Don’t play the blame game
Sometimes it’s nobody’s fault in particular and yet the relationship suffers. Seek not to find out who’s the culprit, but rather search for innovative and mindful ways to put out the fire.
From ice to nice
Instead of being cold and detached, thinking that issues will resolve by themselves; be compassionate and comforting. It doesn’t cost much to speak nicely. It wins a lot though.
Avoid making accusatory statements (“You are always so angry and upset”) and try using I messages instead (“I sense that you might be upset with me, is there anything I can do to make it better?”).
That’s what most wives want – that their husbands would take the time out to listen. Once your wife does decide to share what’s on their mind, remember to listen to what she is saying..
Set specific problem focused goals
Don’t say I will try harder and do better. That’s very general and doesn’t offer any reassurance. Tell her exactly what you will be doing to help change things. It may be as simple as making the weekend breakfast or a late night movie or talking to some family member with whom there are differences. Make it real.
A culture of respect and appreciation goes a long way in strengthening your emotional connection with your spouse. Try and turn your attention away from your partner’s flaws, instead think of ways you can show them how thankful you are to have them in your life and how much you value them as a person.
Dr. Shefali Batra is the Co-Founder of InnerHour. InnerHour aims to empower you with skills and techniques to enhance emotional and behavioural wellness, enabling you to lead a happier and more fulfilling life.